Years ago, I was visiting a friend of my sons’ who was imprisoned in Petersburg VA Federal Penitentiary and saw the complete lack of resources for kids who were visiting. These kids were going crazy in the waiting area. The light bulb went off, and Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (COIPP) — a nonprofit, all volunteer group — was founded. Fifteen years ago we began by providing resources to children to alleviate their boredom in the waiting area. Then, we expanded. We now provide weekend activities for children; distribute age-appropriate books on relevant topics; conduct parenting classes for women in jail; conduct several Sharing Fairs each year during visitation; maintain a children’s library in the Detention Center’s waiting area where children can read and then take home books; provide scholarships for caregivers attending Frederick Community College; conduct parenting meetings with caregivers and released parents; lead workshops for caregivers on parenting topics; and provide services, like children’s haircuts, dinners on wheels, and gift cards in periods of crisis. Soon, we will add workshops with soon-to-be-released inmates and those newly released. We will mentor released inmates and caregivers so that they may co-lead the latter meetings.
Children with Incarcerated Parents